Create the Perfect Charcuterie Board!
What is better for snacking than a big, beautiful charcuterie board? Whether you are having a friend and family gathering, holiday party, or some sort of celebration, a charcuterie board is a great option. The best part is, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to create one, and you can theme the board to match the occasion.
What exactly is a charcuterie board? A charcuterie board typically contains some type of assortment of the following: Meats, cheeses, crackers, artisan toasted bread, fruits, veggies, olives, nuts, dips, desserts and whatever else you choose! Of course, you tailor your board to what you and your guests prefer. Additionally, with the holidays right around the corner, there are many fun desserts you can sprinkle onto your board.
Unsure of where to begin? We have you covered. The volume of items you need depend on how many guests you are providing for. Here are a few popular items for each category:
Meats: Prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, ham, smoked salmon
Cheeses: Goat cheese, Feta cheese, Swiss cheese, blue cheese, Brie Cheese
Crackers: PICS Oil & Herb Crackers, Wheat Thins, Ritz Crackers, pretzels
Artisan Bread: Ciabatta, sourdough, French, rye
Fruits: Grapes, blueberries, raspberries, apricots, figs
Veggies: Carrots, celery, snap peas, grape tomatoes, broccoli, pickles
Olives: Castelvetrano olives, Kalamata olives
Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans
Dips: Hummus, cream cheese, salsa, guacamole, honey, fig spread
Desserts (for holidays or any occasion): Chocolate covered strawberries, jellybeans, mints, candy corn, Hershey kisses, mini cookies, mini candy canes, peppermint bark, M&Ms
Charcuterie boards are a fun way to let your creative mind flow, as well as giving your guests something to admire. Enjoy!
Dairy Delivers Sustainable Nutrition
June is National Dairy Month! My Facebook memories are showing me pictures of many visits to dairy farms across New York State, where I learned about the ways dairy farmers are innovating in animal care, land and water management. The dairy industry has sustainability built into its DNA – farmers are diligent about managing their family farms from generation to generation. They’re always looking for smarter ways to do work, such as using technology, like cow exercise trackers to monitor health, and milk tank temperature systems that text the farmer if the temperature changes. The result of this good stewardship and passionate care is a nutritionally amazing product that delivers sustainable nutrition. This definition is really about the ongoing science-based pursuit of providing affordable, accessible, nutrient rich foods that can nourish the world’s growing population, while also protecting environmental resources now and for future generations.
The foundation of dairy sustainability is the biology of cows themselves. Dairy cows have 4 stomachs, which means they can eat a wide range of foods/plants other animals cannot eat and produce a nutrient rich product. They also produce manure, which is regulated and managed in multiple ways – for example, many farms have digesters that extract liquid and gas from manure, turning that into fertilizer for farm fields and energy for the farm and community. The fertilizer supports grass and cover crops that protect topsoil. Cows are also up cyclers of food waste – citrus pulp, almond hulls, leftover pumpkins and fruits and vegetables are all on the menu, reducing food waste and bringing nutrition benefit back to the food system.
Water is a valuable resource on dairy farms. It is recycled several times as drinking water for cows, to cool them when it’s hot, wash farm equipment and clean the barn floor. After cleaning barns, nutrient rich water can be collected and used to fertilize fields. Data tells the sustainability story best – research shows the amount of water needed to produce a gallon of milk declined 30% over a 10-year period. Overall, the dairy community has reduced the carbon footprint of milk by 63% over a recent 10-year period due to improvements in animal health, cow comfort and farm management practice. Looking ahead, they have committed to an ambitious net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Climate change mitigation is evident in how they produce the same amount of food using fewer resources but still providing great nutrients and great flavor – the 13- nutrient package that is milk and all the things we can make from it is a fantastic result of a constantly improved process. America’s dairy farmers have set aggressive new environmental sustainability goals to achieve greenhouse gas neutral neutrality, optimize water uses and improve water quality.
Dairy farm families have a long-term investment in environmental care. That torch is passed from generation to generation. I have met many of these families and could only be impressed by the dedication to their work. Cows are the center of the dairy farm and caring for them is a passion and a priority, 365 days a year. You and your family are part of the sustainable nutrition cycle and benefit as well – one of the best ways to add nutrition value to any meal or snack is to enjoy a glass of milk or add fun to any afternoon with a bowl of ice cream! Take a virtual tour of a dairy farm and learn more about where delicious dairy comes from!
How to Build Your Own Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie boards present a thoughtful selection of meats, cheeses and accompaniments that make for low maintenance, snack-style meals. They’re perfect for entertaining and encourage mixing and matching of ingredients that create unique, flavorful bites. The art of composing a charcuterie board can be as simple or as sophisticated as you’d like. Use these quick tips to create your ultimate charcuterie board.
The heroes of the board, charcuterie meats range in taste from mild to spicy and come in varying textures from delicate to thick and chewy. Rich, cured charcuterie meats are excellent in small doses, so choosing two to three meats to feature is sufficient. Try melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto, smoky salami, spicy chorizo or zesty pepperoni.
When selecting cheeses, consider texture, flavor, type and style. Draw inspiration from your meats – mellow out rich meats with soft cheeses like mozzarella, Brie or goat cheese. Pair milder varieties, like prosciutto, with complex cheeses that have eclectic profiles such as pungent blue cheese or sharp Manchego.
Fruits & Preserves
Seasonal eating applies to boards too! Sliced fresh fruit and berries are perfect for summer boards while winter boards give citrus, grapes and dried fruits a place to shine. No matter the season, our home.grown. produce offers the freshest, locally sourced, in-season fruits year-round. For a spreadable, fruity component, give our Pear Mostarda recipe a try!
Bread & Nuts
Slices of toasted bread or assorted crackers can balance the tastes of your board’s strongly flavored ingredients. Nuts can also intensify the crunch factor. Use shelled and salted varieties such as pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds.
The best charcuterie platters have a little bit of everything – so don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different components. For more charcuterie inspiration, see page 30 of our Ready magazine!
Shop Charcuterie Essentials
Celebrate Cheese During National Dairy Month
People around the world have a love affair with cheese, and it’s easy to see why! Cheese is a flavorful and
healthful addition to many dishes. Most cheeses are a good or excellent source of calcium, a nutrient that many
people are lacking in their diet, and cheese also provides other essential nutrients like phosphorus and high-quality
protein. These three nutrients are particularly important to help build and maintain healthy bones.
With so many varieties to choose from, there is something to please everyone’s palate, and cheese can fit into most healthy eating plans. Those watching sodium in their diet, can choose softer, less-aged cheeses as they generally require less salt than harder, aged varieties. There are also cheeses available that are lower in sodium and fat available. Even people with lactose intolerance can enjoy cheese by choosing natural, harder cheeses like Cheddar, Colby, Swiss and Monterey Jack.
Cheese is a complex food made with just a few simple ingredients.
Did you know?
It takes 10 pounds of milk to make just 1 pound of cheese
There are more than 300 different cheeses in the U.S. and 2000 varieties in the world
Cheddar cheese is the most popular cheese in America while Mozzarella is the most popular globally
Cheese is the 2nd largest source of dietary calcium for Americans
The most popular cheese recipe in the United States is “macaroni and cheese”
Some varieties of cheese like mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss and American, may help prevent tooth as it promotes saliva flow which leads to the elimination of sugar and acids form the mouth
1 ½ oz. natural cheese or 2 oz. processed cheese is considered a serving about 4 dice-size cubes
Tips for Serving and Storing Cheese
Take cheese out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes before serving for best flavor and aroma
Create a delicious cheese platter by choosing up to 5 cheeses that differ in texture, flavor, size and shape
Arrange the cheeses from mild to strong and soft to hard and provide separate knives for each cheese to keep the flavors distinct
Choose a simple cracker without excess salt or flavors to enhance the flavor of the cheese(s)
Choose crusty breads for mild cheeses or a heavy fruit or nut bread with an aged or more complex selection when serving bread
Serve cheese with your favorite fresh fruit
Grapes can be served with almost any cheese
Pears go great with blue cheese, gorgonzola or aged Gouda
Fresh berries go nicely with a soft ripened cheese such as brie or camembert
Fresh or dried figs pair deliciously with Spanish Manchego or Reggiano Parmesan
Store cut cheese, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator, away from other aromatic foods as it absorbs other flavors, and also loses both flavor and moisture when exposed to air
Cooking with Cheese
It is easier to shred or grate natural cheese when cold
Four ounces of ungrated cheese yields one cup when grated
When preparing sauces and soups, cook over low to medium heat and add toward the end of preparation as cooking over high heat, or for long periods of time, will cause the cheese to separate
For casseroles and baked dishes, sprinkle the grated/shredded cheese over the dish the last ten minutes of baking
Cheese can be enjoyed as an appetizer/snack or at any meal, and here’s a few recipe ideas.
- Know your guests – are they into basics or excited to try new things? If you have a mix, plan on some favorites like aged New York cheddar, and something different like Red Apple Sriracha Cheddar.
- Consider a theme – all cow’s milk cheeses, or cheese from Italy, or cheese that starts with the letter “B” – it is fun and inspiring.
- Choose a range of textures and flavors – textures from soft to hard, and flavors from mild to intense. This is where the store cheese monger can be a great resource.
- Savories – charcuterie like prosciutto lends a salty-sweet element; olives or cornichons add a light vinegar kick to cleanse the palate.
- Sweets – dried fruit, fruit paste or preserve, fresh fruit like grapes or sweet cherries (in season!) are easy and their jewel colors decorate your cheese board. You can take it up a notch by roasting or grilling fruits – roasted grapes on the vine are easy, delicious and dramatic. Honeycomb is another sweet idea.
- Bread and crackers – Slice baguettes up just before your guests arrive. Or, drizzle with a good olive oil, and toast on a cookie sheet. Crackers are as diverse as cheese – look for multigrain types with seeds like sesame or flax, to bring in a nutty flavor that also has some nutrition benefits.
- Speaking of nuts – they are another way to put crunch on the board. Marcona almonds, toasted walnuts or pecans bring texture and taste.
- Cut cheeses ahead of time – use a wire cutter for soft cheeses like blue and brie, and a sharp knife for harder cheeses. Avoid cubing – they do not sit well on crackers or bread.
- Finally – summer food safety. Cheese should be served at room temperature, BUT -summer’s warm temperatures can impact the time you keep cheese out – experts recommend about a two hour time frame. If you see a sheen on the cheese, it is starting to lose fat and flavor. I love the ice filled trays that can be placed under plates and boards – consider using one to balance temperature on very warm days.